NKU part of NASA’s mission to explore space elements, matter

Northern Kentucky University was recently approved for a program through NASA that will explore...
Northern Kentucky University was recently approved for a program through NASA that will explore more about the elements and matter in space.(NASA)
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 2:37 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Northern Kentucky University was recently approved for a program through NASA that will explore more about the elements and matter in space.

Earlier this summer, NASA approved funding for a multi-year project involving five universities with NKU being one of them.

Regents Professor of Physics Dr. Scott Nutter is one of 15 scientists working on the project.

“It’s a space station experiment, who wouldn’t be excited about that?” says Dr. Scott Nutter. “Second of all, we’re getting involved on the ground floor. And it’s always nice to be involved in the design phase and see a project through to the end.”

The $20 million project is called Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder on the International Space Station or TIGERISS.

The idea is to study how matter is created and distributed in our galaxy.

“Understanding how those new elements are created and distributed is important in understanding how new solar systems may be created,” Dr. Nutter continues.

Dr. Nutter has been involved in projects similar to this one where high-altitude helium balloons are launched from places like Antarctica and New Mexico. But those balloons only last for short periods of time; up to 55 days in Antarctica.

This project hopes to attach a balloon to the ISS for years. That would mean gathering more data than has ever been possible.

“In those four years we’ve got a lot of work to do,” says Dr. Nutter, “We’ve got to finish our design, build all the pieces and parts, put them together or integrate and test. Make sure it all works, make sure we can communicate with it well because once it’s on the space station there’s no access for us.”

If all goes as planned, TIGERISS will launch in late 2026 or early 2027.

Dr. Nutter points out that for the NKU undergraduate students involved in this project, that could mean huge benefits for these students as they pursue a career or another academic institution in the future.

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